Government delivers national freight protocol

National Cabinet has endorsed a new Domestic Border Control Freight Movement Protocol to keep freight moving across Australia.

National Cabinet agreed to upgrade the protocol to an Enforceable Code by state and territory jurisdictions.

The protocol, endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee with the involvement of members of the Transport and Infrastructure Council, outlines measures that all States and Territories agree will allow freight to move safely and efficiently across borders.

National Cabinet also agreed further work be carried out by jurisdictions on the implementation and enforcement of an industry code which, in-conjunction with the protocol, will minimise risks and exposure to workers and the community from COVID-19.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said in creating the protocol, all levels of government had worked together to combine the best health advice with feedback from the transport industry.

“Freight operators keep Australia moving and we have seen them work tirelessly over the past few months in particular, keeping shelves stocked and the economy running by connecting businesses and goods to markets,” said McCormack.

“They should not have to put their lives at risk, nor the lives of their families and friends, as they continue to work through this pandemic.

“That is why all Australian Governments have agreed to this new protocol, which outlines a number of essential health and safety standards and work practices which will keep our freight and supply chain safe, protecting operators and the Australian public.

“This is a great demonstration of how governments and industry are working together to ensure much-needed goods keep making their way to communities during the pandemic whilst keeping the health and safety of all Australians front and centre,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, welcomed the protocol, saying it paved a clearer path forward for freight moving across internal border controls.

“Having been involved in the freight industry for many years, I know just how vital our freight supply chain is to the lives of all Australians as it connects hard-working local businesses to markets,” said Buchholz.

“Our freight industry underpins jobs, strengthens the national economy and secures our future prosperity.

“We know this has been tough a time for the industry, with our freight operators often required to cross multiple internal borders in a single trip – facing the critical domestic border controls State and Territory governments have had to operate to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Aligning state and territory measures through this protocol will ensure smoother inter-state journeys for our freight operators and reduce delays in the supply chain,” he said.

Australian Logistics Council CEO, Kirk Coningham, said this was a great example of what can be achieved when governments work collaboratively and quickly with industry.

“This is an excellent outcome delivering national consistency and clarity for freight,” said Coningham.

“This is a robust and timely policy built on mutual trust and understanding,” he said.

The protocol complements existing Work Health and Safety and fatigue management requirements, public health advice and COVIDSafe work plan requirements.

Today’s decision builds on the common-sense framework in which governments across Australia have approached issued affecting the freight industry, after previously ensuring rest stops received an exemption from various restrictions in place earlier in the pandemic.

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